The romantic north eastern city of Verona first became synonimous with the Dalla Scala aristocrats who ruled it in the Middle Ages and part of the Renaissance, then with Juliet and Romeo, and now with Chievo and Hellas Verona.
Today, the two Veronese teams faced each other for the 11th time ever, the first in 11 years, with a balanced record of 4 wins, 4 losses and 2 ties. With numbers like that, something had to give. Their season form thus far quite opposite of expectations, as Hellas has proven to be Serie A’s revelation team, while Chievo the surprising disappointment. A premonition for Hellas, as often derbies are won by the team in poorer form.
This exciting atmosphere was contrasted by Verona’s gray November sky. Call it destiny, but gray was the colour of Chievo Verona’s uniform – just as discoloured as the match.
Chievo’s prudent approach to the match marks the game. After all, Chievo’s Eugenio Corini has just taken over the reigns from Sannino, whom the brass preferred to Corini himself. Before halftime, in fact, each team produces only one scoring chance each. At the 5th minute Dramè’s cross is met by Frey who deflects the ball into the net, but the play is erroneously deemed offside. On the other end Frey is the protagonist again when he touches a lobbed ball with his arm. Referee Guida does not call the foul.
At the 60th minute, Hellas coach Mandorlini throws Martinho and Cacciatore into the mix. Corini, instead, sends Lazarevic in for Sestu, which proved to be the winning move at the death: a 1-2 exchange at the 92 minute between Hetemaj and Lazarevic, with the latter placing a powerful shot with the inside of his foot on the near post. It’s the goal that ends 450 minutes of scoring abstinence for Chievo, and buys the Flying Donkeys bragging rights until the return match.
After the match Mandorlini’s rancour was evident: “We did what we could do, they shut down. To lose at the end bothers me, but we must accept it”. When asked if he thinks his team suffered from the nervous atmosphere that often surrounds derbies, he denied that this was a factor: “we prepared the game well. We’re upset, it could have ended in a tie, which would have been a fair result”.
Corini, on the other hand, was all smiles “it was a good, vibrant game, well played. We responded at every one of Hellas’ attacks and in the end we were able to snatch a deserved victory”.